cognitive behavioural therapy; psychology; relationship counselling

How to fix a push-pull relationship

How to fix a push-pull relationship

Many of us have experienced a push-pull relationship. This is where the balance of power in the relationship is imbalanced. One person seems to chase when the other is pulling away and vice versa. All relationships go through a natural process of meandering along ‘power lines’, but mostly to a degree that isn’t detrimental to the longevity of the partnership.

A push-pull dynamic can create havoc in a relationship and cause ongoing stress for both people involved. Love is complicated enough without adding this toxic behaviour to the mix.

The effect of a push-pull relationship

The relationship is rarely stable

Both people can feel insecure in the relationship

Emotional games tend to be played and this takes it’s toll emotionally

Harmony is short lived

Intimacy is avoided for the most part

The relationship can have an unhealthy focus to the exclusion of other areas in life (family, friends, work, health etc)

A push-pull relationship doesn’t always start out that way. It can be relatively smooth initially until emotional intimacy crops up. This is when the ‘pusher’ tends to pull away. The person who was receiving attention and affection wonders what had happened and they tend to start pushing – the roles become reversed. In effect, both parties are often engaged in opposing behaviour – never quite meeting in the middle.

How to fix a push-pull relationship

Try the “Opposite action theory”. Do the opposite of your normal behaviour. If you would normally chase and seek reassurance, refrain from doing this. Keep in contact but maintain a confident position within the relationship. This can be difficult to do though as it creates tension and anxiety within a relationship and no one likes to feel uneasy.

This is the wisest choice though despite being hard to do. If the relationship can’t survive without the push-pull dynamic, the likelihood of it lasting at all are slim.

Be responsible in the relationship and own up to your feelings. Identify the push-pull dynamic and communicate openly with your partner about this. If they can’t see this dynamic or refuse to acknowledge it’s existence, that will tell you a lot about their attitude towards you and the relationship. Often this ‘dance’ can be a manifestation of early childhood patterns. At times, we aren’t even fully aware of the push-pull factor but we will be aware that the relationship drains us.

Try couple counselling

If all else fails and you are unable to undo the push-pull dynamic, a relationship counsellor will be able to intervene and help you both get back on track towards a healthier, more mutually satisfying relationship.

Mandy X

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